Referencing early modern English play texts alongside contemporary records, accounts and statutes, this study offers an overdue assessment of the relationship between the dramatic efforts of the universities and early modern male identity. Taking into account the near single-sex constitution of early modern universities, the book argues that performances of university plays, and student responses to them, were key ways of exploring and shaping early modern masculinity. Christopher Marlow shows how the plays dealt with their academic and social contexts, and analyses their responses to competing versions of masculinity. He also considers the implications of university authority and royal patronage for scholarly performances of masculinity; the effect of the literary traditions of classical friendship and platonic love on academic representations of male behaviour; and the relationship between university drama and masculine initiation rituals. Including discussion of the Parnassus trilogy, Club Law and works by Thomas Randolph, William Cartwright, John Milton and others, this study shines new light on long neglected aspects of the golden age of English drama.
'Thoughtful, very well-researched, original and lively, this book offers an intelligent and informed analysis of material that is very illuminating about the uncertain status of learning in early modern England. The subject matter is significant, the purpose of each chapter clearly set out, and the analyses availing.' Elizabeth Hanson, Queens University, Canada ’Accessible and engaging, Marlow’s thought-provoking analysis suggests the potential for opening up the field and taking a closer look at this rich body of material.’ Early Theatre 'Marlow’s provocative argument carves out a justification for expanding the terms by which one approaches this rich material and for resisting imposing upon it those terms relevant to the pre-professional and professional theater. His discussion raises many questions as it generously invites further scrutiny. As he observes, the time is ripe for a such a turn.' Comparative Drama